Joint Press Release from Atchison County Health Department and Community Hospital-Fairfax:  Atchison County is Experiencing Significant Community Spread of COVID-19

Thus far, Atchison County has been very fortunate in having few COVID-19 cases, but now our county is currently experiencing widespread community transmission.  Widespread community transmission means that the disease is spreading out of control in all areas of our communities.  Everyone, especially those not taking precautions such as physical distancing and wearing masks, is at significantly greater risk of contracting this disease.

We are all very weary of COVID-19 precautions and the barrage of news we hear about the pandemic every day.  We frequently hear comments such as, “I just want to get it, and get it over with”.  We want to remind you that this attitude does not consider your responsibility to family members, friends, or the community.  Many people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and are fortunate to recover.  Others have long-term complications including debilitating symptoms requiring long recoveries, hospitalizations, and the possibility of death.  There will be a vaccine and we need to accept the short delay in returning to our regular life and get there safely.  This also applies to your holiday gatherings.  There is strong evidence that even small gatherings may result in many exposures or infections, and you need to be extremely careful.

Neighboring counties and states are also experiencing widespread community transmission.  This means that hospital care where patients may be transferred, for ICU care, is becoming more and more stressed. We know that 1 in 5 cases of COVID-19 will require hospitalization.   While you may not need hospital care, someone you expose may or someone you love may require specialized hospital services that are becoming more difficult to acquire.  Let’s work together to ensure that hospital care remains available for our family, friends, and neighbors.

“Community Hospital-Fairfax and clinics continue to provide routine healthcare services to the community. During this time, we do want to strongly urge you not to delay emergent care. Community Hospital-Fairfax Emergency Room is ready to evaluate you and determine if you need additional specialty care” Aron Burke M.D., CH-F Chief Medical Officer, reminds us.

COVID-19 testing is extremely important in slowing the spread of the disease.  If you are experiencing any of the many COVID-19 symptoms, it is very important that you stay at home until obtaining a COVID-19 test.  Testing is offered at Community Hospital Fairfax weekdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Of course, if symptoms are serious the Emergency Room and/or an Ambulance should be consulted immediately.  In the event of a positive test, the Health Department will provide information about addressing your symptoms and what you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to your family and others.  Avoiding testing, so that you do not cause an inconvenience to others, is not responsible. Rather, testing may conveniently save your own or someone else’s life.  As a reminder, if you keep your number of close contacts low by physically distancing, your positive test will inconvenience very few.

Regardless of how incredibly careful you believe you may be, you can still become infected, even with all precautions being observed.  If symptoms develop, stay home, obtain a test and avoid contact with others.  The message to Atchison County residents is to have a plan in place for where you will stay, whom you have had or will have contact with, and how you plan to care for yourself or other family members in the event that COVID-19 impacts you or your own family. We are also encouraging everyone to have a flu shot.  Getting the flu shot this year is particularly important because, like COVID-19, influenza is a respiratory virus and we want to do everything we can to minimize having two respiratory outbreaks circulating simultaneously in our populations.

Community Hospital-Fairfax and Atchison County Health Department have made it their mission to provide current information through social media and newspapers since the beginning of the pandemic.  Together, we remind you that the time is now for everyone to do their part in helping to control the spread of this disease in our communities.  Together, we will get through this, if each of us observe the precautions that give us our best chances to be safe until a vaccine is made available.